Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field……blindfolded
-Department of Transportation Study
Let’s be honest, it’s happened to all of us at one point…. You’re headed somewhere, your phone makes a noise, you reach over to just take a quick look and by the time you look up the situation on the road has changed drastically. In fact, the stats like the one listed above are straight up ALARMING!
After a few too many close calls, and some prodding by my employer I’ve decided that it’s time to swear it off completely. While no one in the industry has come out and supported an all-out ban on their products while in a motor vehicle, Sprint has taken a stance that any distraction on the road is un-acceptable and AT&T has even started running PSA’s that are extremely powerful. I applaud all of these efforts and I hope more follow the lead.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but sometimes my phone is just too tempting… I set out to find a more direct method of blocking my obsessive behavior. There are a number of apps out there for Android that restrict phone usage, some of them like Sprint Drive First even automagically lock your phone when they detect movement over 10mph. The application sends all calls straight to voicemail and auto-replies to incoming text messages when enabled. I opted for a more passive approach and went with “Safely GO” a similar app that requires the driver to manually enable the lock screen before heading off on a trip (I like to be in control…)
To create a visual reminder, I now have an NFC enabled sticker* on my steering wheel that will enable the Safely GO app when I tap it. Within the first week of setting all of this up, I found that I grabbed my phone an average of 6 times per trip to and from work….once picking up my phone and seeing the lock screen, I’m reminded to put it down….who knows what I was really looking for. Email, text messages, Facebook updates???? None of that is really that important and can wait until I get to my destination.
I’ve found that the sticker is now a permanent reminder to keep my eyes on the road and my phone sits happily in my pocket. Nerds like myself will continue to hack solutions together like this, but it’s only a matter of time before the government steps in and figures out a broader solution. Challenge yourself on your next car ride. Count the number of times you reach for your phone, I think you’ll be surprised.
Have a better solution? Let me know in the comments!
*For my Mom…NFC is Near Field Communication. The technology is built into certain phones (all Sprint Android phones going forward) and is a short range wireless communication that can enable tasks on your phone. With a blank NFC sticker you can program it to do certain tasks when you touch your phone to it….I programmed this one in my car to enable Safely GO’s driving mode. It’s the same technology that enables “tap to pay” applications like Google Wallet.